Trump vs. Trump: A Puzzling Contradition

What is going on in the mind of Donald J Trump? I’m not talking about the question of true mental illness – I’ll leave that to medical professionals. But no matter what the cause, why does he say things that contradict himself?

Lying is one thing. And switching positions for political advantage is another thing. Both, perhaps, to one degree or another reprehensible but understandable.

But simply contradicting oneself is strange. Trump fights many demons  but battling himself is difficult to understand

An example.

At the weekend event which saw five former presidents band together to raise funds for hurricane relief, Trump in a video tape called them   “some of America’s finest public servants.”

What? Trump says Barack Obama is one of Americans finest public servants?

Are you laughing or crying?

Why, Trump has attacked each one of them. He  has taken major swipes at Bill Clinton and George W Bush but particularly at Barack Obama – Obama in extreme language that continues to this day.

Well, you say, this hurricane relief event was no place to surface criticism but to praise his predecessors efforts on behalf of hurricane victims.  True enough.

But before I show you the way it  can be done without looking like a fool or cause someone to ask what is going on in your mind, let’s examine the most egregious example of Trump contradicting Trump.

It occurred on election night, 2016.

The 2016, Presidential  campaign was the dirtiest, slimiest campaign in modern times thanks to the tactics and language delivered by Donald J trump and his merry band of thugs and enablers. He said his opponent was not only unqualified to be president, but was a criminal who should be locked up. In fact, he told Hillary Clinton in their second televised debate that if he were in charge of the law, “You’d be in jail.”

Yet, on election night Trump said this:

“I just received a call from Secretary Clinton.
She congratulated us — it’s about us — on our victory, and I congratulated her and her family on a very, very hard-fought campaign. I mean, she — she fought very hard.”

So far, so good, a gracious response to his opponent’s concession call.

But there was more. I’m sure you recall what he said next.

Hillary has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time, and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country.

I mean that very sincerely.”

I jumped up from my chair and yelled in my most sarcastic tone of voice “What, you mean you don’t want to lock her up? You fraud, you despicable man, ( I went on for another few words but as I promised, I am not going to call people vulgar names in my blogs so I dare not repeat what I said further).”

In Trump’s mind, which is she – a criminal who should be locked up or someone owed a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country?

The mind reels: To the stockade for you, George Washington! But go there with our profound thanks for beating the British and making it possible for us to have our own country.

Guard, twenty lashes for “crooked George.”

Now, is all this Trump vs. Trump something we can just put down to being “gracious?”

I’ll show you how that can be done but without a contradiction.

The presidential campaign of 1980, was hard fought between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, each saying in many ways that the other was unqualified to lead the nation (although never with the gutter tactics and language of 2016).

And we reporters who covered that campaign can tell you they truly did not “like” each other (I traveled with Carter as the White House correspondent for ABC News).

But when Jimmy Carter’s presidential library was dedicated, Reagan in the tradition of president’s attending their predecessor’s library dedication came and spoke.

He praised Carter for his humanitarian efforts, concluding his speech by telling Carter: “For myself, I can pay you no higher honor than to say simply this: You gave of yourself to your country, gracing the White House with your passionate intellect and commitment.”

Reagan took back none of his former criticism but found ways to sincerely honor Carter.

But Carter “stole the show” when in thanking Reagan, he said “As I listened to you talk, I understood more clearly than I ever did in my life why you won in 1980 and I lost.”

Two gentlemen, gracious as the occasion  demanded, but true to themselves.

Of course, Trump is no gentleman and is true to himself only in that he thinks only of himself. But that brings me around to the question I asked in the beginning – What is going on in  the mind of Donald J Trump?

When he lies, he lies and certainly knows it (barring mental illness).

He believes as he has said that he could shoot someone and never lose a single vote. His voters don’t know or don’t care that he lies.

They love it when he sticks his finger in the eyes of the “elites,” when he talks tough, threatens  to destroy another Country and its twenty five million inhabitants and particularly when he denounces the main stream media as dispensing ‘fake news”.

After all, the hard core who stomped and yelled when he cried “lock her up” and pulled the lever on election day do not yet know or cannot yet admit they were chumps, taken by a reality-star con man. They’ll learn but not yet

My answer to the question posed is that when he contradicts himself he doesn’t realize it. He doesn’t think things through (surprise, surprise) but says whatever comes to his mind at the moment, often driven by an outburst of emotion. That he contradicts himself causes him no embarrassment because he doesn’t realize he’s done it.

Trump may not care that if he shoots someone else he won’t lose a single vote.

But when you shoot yourself, Donald, do you care about what you lose then?

It Wont Be Pretty? No Kidding!

Once again, Donald J Trump has attacked John McCain. A sure way to push my buttons.

Here are the lead paragraphs of the Washington Post story this morning on the attack.

“President Trump promised retribution against Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for his opposition to several GOP health-care plans and his comments implicitly criticizing Trump’s views and leadership on Monday night.
“People have to be careful because at some point, I fight back,” Trump said in an interview Tuesday with WMAL, a D.C. radio station.
“I’m being very nice. I’m being very, very nice. But at some point, I fight back, and it won’t be pretty,” Trump said.”

You, Donald J Trump, a man who never faced Soviet Surface to Air Missiles, who never spent a day in an enemy prison, who never served a day in the military , you dare threaten John McCain with a fight???

No, it wouldn’t be pretty. It won’t be close.

In History’s eyes, this fight of  Trump vrs McCain, the coward whose every action portrays a person interested only in himself as against the hero whose public career shows a deep concern for others will be judged a “no contest! Why Trump would pick a fight he  can not possibly win is just another example of his stupidity.

Let me tell you why I am so strongly in McCain’s corner. It is not just because of his wartime heroism, or his public service (I disagree with some of his views and his congressional votes) but as a reporter who talked to him over the years I came to respect the way he treated people, including me. Mind you, we are not social friends, have never been to each other’s house for dinner, but in my work I have had the chance to take his measure and liked what I found.

In 1989, five Senators banded together to talk to Federal regulators on behalf of Charles Keating, whose Lincoln Savings and Loan Company, an Arizona based Company, was under investigation. McCain was one of the five.

After an initial meeting, two of the Senators, McCain and another American hero John Glenn backed away from any effort to intervene on behalf of Keating (whose Company ended up causing the biggest  individual loss to taxpayers in the Savings and Loan scandal).

McCain consented to an on-camera interview with me during which he made no excuses, offered no “fishy” explanations for his initial participation in the so-dubbed “Keating Five,” simply said he showed up at the request for help from an Arizona constituent but when it became apparent the meeting was not called for the purpose of getting information but for putting pressure on the regulators he withdrew. He said he realized his mistake for attending and could blame no one but himself for making it.

Four years later I was back looking at McClain. A Whistle Blower had put us onto  the fact that the U S Navy’s long time base on Bermuda (so important during World War II and even during the early  days of the cold war with the Soviet Union) no longer had any functions except to service the civilian airport for the British and maintain VIP cottages located on the U S Naval Base. It was costing U S taxpayers about thirty three million dollars a year to keep  the base open for those two purposes. We, of our ABC magazine program Prime Time Live, were delighted to investigate.

Part of the story was the fact that U S VIPS could visit the Island and stay in the luxurious Naval Guest Houses for “pennies” what it would cost them in regular civilian spas. One such VIP who had done this was Senator John McCain. On his trip, he had taken eleven family members including the children’s nanny. Wow, did I want to get McCain on camera and roast him over this!

So, one afternoon at Washington’s National airport (now Reagan National) I was lurking in the parking lot with a camera crew when McCain headed for his car after a trip back from Phoenix, pulling his roller bag.  When I jumped him, he stopped pulling his roller bag and dodged as best he could my questions and my roasting. No complaints to me. Big boys and girls in Harry Truman’s political kitchen “take the heat.”

When I got back to the office I got a call from McCain’s press  secretary wanting me to explain my “ambush” interview. I told him I thought McCain wouldn’t agree to an interview and that was the only way I would get to talk to him about this subject that was clearly embarrassing to him.

The press secretary said if I had asked McCain would have seen me in circumstances that didn’t make it look to viewers he was trying to avoid talking (when you “ambush” someone that is often the impression left) and would I come up right now for a more formal interview. I agreed that was the fair thing to do and did it, McCain answered all  my questions saying when informed the Guest House was available to him as it was to any other member of Congress he hadn’t thought about the ramifications of privilege that other American vacationers  would see.

And guess what? later as a ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee McCain helped shut down that U S Naval Base and its Guest Houses as a wasteful spending of taxpayer’s money.

Again, in 1999, as he prepared  an unsuccessful campaign to secure the GOP presidential nomination, he admitted in an interview with me that in the Vietnamese prison under torture he had signed a paper denouncing U S involvement in the war. Easy enough not to bring it up since I didn’t know about it.

He said when he and the other prisoners were freed he was worried that his father, the Admiral who was in charge of all U S forces in the Pacific ,would want nothing to do with him because of that. Instead, his father embraced him when he got off the plane and called him the hero he is.

Tip O’Neal, the great Speaker of the House, used to say that “all politics is local and personal” and perhaps that is also true of relationships. I got to know John McCain in my professional dealings with him as an honest,  “straight shooter,” a man flawed as are we all but a man to be admired.

Consequently, when it comes to a fight with Donald J Trump, I’ll he in McCain’s corner.

And I’ll cover all bets!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By God, That’s Enough!

There is this great scene in the movie “Patton,” when the allied generals in North Africa are discussing the battle and two German planes come over and begin strafing and bombing.  The generals duck for cover under tables as the planes keep sweeping back and forth over the town to bomb and strafe some more

Suddenly Patton (George C Scott) exclaims “By God, that’s enough!” as he jumps down into the street, pulls out his two pistols, and begins firing at the planes on their next pass.

Well, when one tries to absorb the daily bombing and staffing emanating from Donald J Trump and his merry band of thugs, the lies, the cruelty, the ignorance, the government-by-twitter, don’t you just feel like saying “By God, that’s enough!”

In the past couple of days, Donald J Trump has laid down conditions for making a deal with the Democrats on giving the DACA children a life in this Country where they have grown up and where they contribute that makes it clear there can be no deal on his preposterous terms – build the wall indeed!

Then, to say that Senator Bob Corker, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, didn’t have the guts to run for re-election after Corker let it be known publicly that he doesn’t believe Donald J Trump has the capacity to be president, well Corker is right to reply  that the White House has become “an adult day care center.”

The continued “gutting” of the EPA in pursuit of profits over planet is a horrible thing to watch.

The teaching the Puerto Ricans they should be grateful for any attention, no matter how small and how late is a monstrosity.

And how about telling us that his meeting with the brass was “the calm before the storm,” telling his Secretary of State he’s wasting his time trying to talk to the North Koreans, and saying that won’t work, only one thing will work!

All that is pretty scary until you remember that Secretary of Defense  Mattas has instructed the military that any “strike” twitter order from the White House will have to go through the chain of command (and that means him)  before it can be executed and believe me, Mattas is not going to approve “destroying” twenty five million people in one thermonuclear attack!

There’s a lot more but the head reels, the mind falters, the energy flags in trying to absorb it all. In the end, it  boils down to this: We are in the hands of a child, a foolish child at that, a child with no capacity to think straight or act decently but a child who is dangerous!

As I’ve said before, we are in the hands of an EVI (Egomaniacal Vulgarian Ignoramus).

And its time to say:

By God, that’s enough!

We must keep the pressure on Congress to remove this child. Make our voices heard. Take to street corners and public squares. Write letters to the editor. Never become complacent or accepting of this truly horrible situation. Give of our time and money to the cause. Those of you who are able, run for public office. And at every opportunity on the local and higher levels, vote!

Oh, one last thing. We expect our president to be a person of manners, someone the kids can look up to and learn from when it comes to deportment and civil behavior.

HA! Not the EVI as the New York Times Editorial Board has put it so well in listing just some of the coarse and crass behavior exhibited by him.

Here’s the link:   https://nyti.ms/2ySgZKi

And now, a smile. When driving to downtown Albuquerque this morning I found a balloon from the Albuquerque Balloon Festival threatening to land on top of my vehicle. A stiff ground breeze had sprung up and Balloons were going every which way. This one was coming for me having just managed to clear the light and US 25 freeway. I threw the cell phone camera to the floor  and gunned it to escape. The Balloon landed safely on the dirt patch to the right in the picture.

Do you think the EVI was guiding the Balloon to get me? That’s absurd but I probably should check with Alex Jones just to make certain.

 

 

 

Guns Don’t Kill People!

Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president and CEO of the National Rifle Association insists that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” (1)

Every time there is a new mass killing in the United States, LaPierre and the NRA go into overtime defending the right of almost anyone to own almost any type of weapon and to preach their gospel that the gun is never responsible and curtailment of anyone’s right to acquire that gun is almost never permissible.

He says the 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution supports his view without reservation.

In the wake of the Las Vegas mass killings (as I write  a record number), let’s talk about that.

“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”

Yes, human beings kill other human beings. We strangle each other, we use a hammer, a knife, poison, a gun and you name it. Our ability to think up  deadly ways to kill another human appears to be unlimited. But mostly we use guns.

It was a gun that killed all those people in Las Vegas. Bullets from a gun.

True, except in rare circumstances, it does require a human to pull the trigger.  Otherwise, the gun just sits there as benign as a tooth brush.

But wait, let’s consider the tooth brush.

I mean, let’s say I get so angry with you that I want to kill you or something snaps in my brain and I want to kill you . If all I have in my hand is a tooth brush and I point it at you and pull backward on the bristle, you will walk away without a scratch.

But if  I have a loaded gun and pull the trigger, you may drop dead instantly.  I was the “agent” that put the gun in play but it was the gun that killed you.

LaPierre and I agree that to the extent we can identify potential human “killers” (those mentally ill for instance)  steps should be taken to prevent them from pulling a trigger.

But what about others who can’t readily be so identified?

Shouldn’t we take reasonable steps to control use of the second half of the deadly equation – the gun itself?

For instance, let’s toughen the requirements for background checks on gun buyers.

Polling released by the liberal Center for American Progress found that 83 percent of gun owners nationally support criminal background checks on all sales of firearms, while only 14 percent of gun owners oppose them. There is strong bipartisan agreement on the issue, with 90 percent of Democrat and 81 percent of Republican gun owners in support of background checks. Additionally, 72 percent of NRA members support them.

But LaPierre who has given only grudgingly support for background checks said two years ago that it is an “absolute fallacy” that tougher “checks” are needed.

And as far as any restrictions on the type of gun itself, why LaPierre is unequivocally opposed to any meaningful restriction on their sale. Not on so-called “cop killer” bullets, not on a tougher restriction on the sale of “silencers,” not on reinstatement of the lapsed ban on the sale of assault rifles (the kind used in the Vegas and other recent mass killings).

Hunters do  not need such military assault rifles to kill dear or elk or, for that matter, African Lions. Such weapons are made to kill human beings but LaPierre argues that to ban them is a slippery slope toward the banning and confiscation of all firearms.

Nonsense.

But he seems convinced that any move to keep them out of the hands of private citizens is an impermissible infringement on the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution.

Let’s look at that Amendment and what motivated the Founders who wrote the Constitution to believe it important.

The Founders had just come through a bloody, bitter war with the British. They won that war not with a standing army – the Colonists had none to begin with – but with citizen-soldiers who brought their own muskets, augmented with canon and some other types of weapons to form an army.

The Founders thought that repelling future attack from abroad as well as the need to turn back a domestic insurrection might well also require the mobilization of citizen-soldiers who would have to bring their own, personal weapons once again. How, do we know this was the Founder’s motive?

Read the beginning of the 2nd Amendment:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…”

The founders did not say something like “Citizen needs for hunting or personal security in their houses or on the streets or for recreational or any other purpose…..”

No, they wrote “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State (Itals added) the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

And what did they think was “Arms?”  Muskets, muzzle loaders, percussion cap pistols, in short the weapons with which they were familiar. But today, the word “Arms” applies to machine guns, assault rifles of every kind, hand grenades, rockets, and by extension weapon systems like the “Stinger Missile” system, designed to bring down aircraft. The Atomic Cannon?

Does anyone in their right mind think that the Founders had they known about those weapons  would have written words that would allow any private citizen to buy and possess a Stinger Missile system?

Yes, my friends, people pull the trigger and to the extent in a free society we can find and curtail them from doing so in a harmful way, well and good. But the triggers are on guns and without them, fare fewer people would die.

Last year, 15,079 Americans died from gun violence. We could just accept the deaths.

Or we can take additional steps to curtail the indiscriminate and wanton use of firearms by people who evidence suggests shouldn’t have them and with weapons that are more powerful than necessary for ordinary, peaceful use.

(1) In order to weigh my own motive for writing this article, readers should know that Wayne LaPierre twice urged the management of ABC News to fire me.

He said I was not “unbiased” as a reporter should be when it came to publicly taking sides in the fight over “gun control.” He cited the fact that on two occasions I had acted as Master of Ceremonies for a dinner of the Brady Foundation, an organization which supports gun control.

I was standing five and a half feet away from John Hinckley, Jr., when he shot Ronald Reagan and three other people, one of whom was James Brady, Reagan’s press secretary.

And LaPierre is right. Although I tried to keep by views out of my work as a straight reporter,  I was happy as an individual to show my support for Brady and his Foundation’s objective.

And I make no apology for doing that.

 

 

Leadership 101

Once in awhile if we are lucky, we run across someone who exemplifies the standards of Leadership we all seek.

Someone who says “follow me” and the path taken is forward into the light, into a world of decency, respect for others, freedom from base and cruel conduct.  A leader worth following.

Such a person is Lt. General Jay Silveria, a 1985 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, now the Academy’s Superintendent.

Recently, racial slurs were found written on the doors of five black cadet candidates at the Air Force Academy Preparatory School.

Gneral Silveria stepped forward to deliver a message to the Academy’s student body. It was simple, understandable and powerful.

The message was, if you can’t treat others with decency and respect “you need to get out.”

Here is the link from the Washington Post of the video of General Silveria’s speech. I urge you to watch it.

http:/wapo.st/2xC0gya

I do not know General Silveria. I’ve never met him except through the brief speech he delivered. Watching and listening to him, I feel I know him and would willingly and gladly follow him as a Leader.

Don’t you wish that Donald J Trump was such a leader. Don’t you wish he had delivered such a speech against racism and intolerance rather than tell us there are “good people on both sides?”

And if the President of the United Statwes can’t, won’t deliver such a speech I beseech him to follow General Silveria’s advice and Get Out!

The New Civil War: Part One – Judge Moore vs. James Madison

I’ve contended for years that our Country is engaged in a new Civil War. Not over slavery; for most Americans the issue of slavery is settled and settled correctly.

But other disagreements of who we are as a peoples, as a nation, what we stand for  and what rights of the individual are  paramount over the rights of the State and so forth have divided is into new Blue and Gray camps.

From time to time I want to talk about such issues. Today, the issue is one of Religion in America.

Religion has always played a big part in the lives of most Americans. But, until recently, religious and secular matters have been kept separate.

One  has gone to one’s House of Worship for guidance in matters of  faith in God and a religious code of morals and spiritual life and gone to a civil court in matters of secular law and  matters of agreed on peaceful co-existence hammered out through human trial and error over time, not Religious Gospel..

Today, however, many people are contending that Religion -their Religion – should override, even supplant, civil law and everyone should live according to its commandments.

Enter Judge Roy Moore, once Alabama’s Supreme Court Chief Judge, now Alabama’s Republican party nominee for a seat in the United States Senate.

He is most controversial. Why, is summed up in a Washington Post op-ed piece by Stephan Stromberg:

“As the chief of the Supreme Court of Alabama, he rejected federal court orders based on his apparent view that his personal religious convictions superseded the nation’s civil law. Moore’s refusal to distinguish the public interest from his private agenda was a brazen assault on the country’s core institutions, the likes of which even Trump has not matched. Civilized people do not get to decide which court rulings they follow. Moore’s empowerment will encourage zealotry and lawlessness.

Clearly Moore wants his religion – Christianity – not only to guide his personal life but your personal life. Moore believes this is what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they wrote and ratified the Constitution, the guiding framework of principles under which we are all supposed to live.

Well, if the Founers intention was to make this a “Christian” nation, why didn’t they say so? They wrote the document.

Instead, what they wrote is plain to those who understand and speak the English language. They wrote in the First Amendment to the Constitution as one of the five freedoms guaranteed to us in that Amendment:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

James Madison who wrote the 1st  Amendment was a Christian and he could have written “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion except for the Christian religion.  But he didn’t.

Clearly, the intent is to ensure that you can practice your religion and I can practice my religion (and those who choose to practice no religion) can do so free from Government interference or preference (unless, of course, my religion commands me to do something such as cutting off your head in which case the civil law will call it illegal murder and step in to stop me).

Judge Moore doesn’t care about what the 1st Amendment says . He says his God is supreme and he says his God’s teachings must govern us all.

Okay, Judge Moore. Let’s suppose I say my God teaches that firearms are instruments of human misery and destruction and the 2nd Amendment should be disregarded. Okay? You get to decide which parts of the Constitution you’ll live by and I and everyone else gets to decide which parts we’ll live by?

Is that what they taught you in law school Judge Moore?

We can not and must not tell Roy Moore what God he should believe in and whose teachings he should follow. But the rest of us must not allow Roy Moore to force us to follow his God’s teachings.

That’s what the 1st Amendment is all about; that’s what America has been all about and has stood this Country is good stead since our Founding.

We must continue to welcome people who follow any religion of peace and tolerance but anyone who tries to make us all governed by their personal,particular religious creed must be fiercely resisted.

If this is part of our new Civil War – and it is -bring it on!

 

The Coward vs. The Hero

Donald J Trump rages (once again) against John S McCain III as Republican Senator Susan Collins joins Republican Senators McCain and  Rand Paul in announcing she will vote against the latest proposal to Repeal the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”).

Her vote, a third “No” vote when Republicans can afford to lose only two,  would  seal the doom of the Repeal effort, thus saving millions of financially struggling Americans from being stripped of their Health Insurance.

Is it chivalry that causes Trump to attack McCain rather than Collins, a woman? Oh, no, we know how Trump feels about women, treats them, speaks about them. demeans them and disrespects them.

No, it is because in his heart of hearts, Donald J Trump knows that he was a coward during Vietnam, obtaining the necessary deferments from serving in the military and risking personal danger while John S McCain III, a naval aviator, was a hero being tortured in an enemy prison.

In our heart of hearts we all know who we are. And we strike out at those who, by being better than we, shame us.

But now that it appears the stake has finally been driven through the heart of the heartless effort to deprive millions of health insurance, Trump must rage against someone.

After all, he promised his voters that he would repeal the Affordable Care Act (promised that at least 66 times) and replace it with one that covered all Americans at cheaper cost. A fantasy akin to the promise that in eight years he would totally eliminate the national debt (by increasing spending on the military while reducing taxes?).

Trump had his staff put together some of McCain’s past video statements in support of “Obamacare” repeal and yesterday morning he tweeted:

@realDonaldTrump

A few of the many clips of John McCain talking about Repealing & Replacing O’Care. My oh my has he changed-complete turn from years of talk!

True, McCain has been for Repeal. But he says only  after careful study of a Replacement that does not, like the present “quickie” proposal, throw millions of Americans off their Health Insurance.

Certainly, anyone can change their mind and explain their change. Trump, himself, has changed his past view about Health Care. And he was asked to explain that change during a GOP debate in 2015 by reporter Bret Bair.

 Brier: “Now, 15 years ago, you called yourself a liberal on health care. You were for a single-payer system, a Canadian-style system. Why were you for that then and why aren’t you for it now?

Trump: “First of all, I’d like to just go back to one (a previous question). In July of 2004, I came out strongly against the war with Iraq, because it was going to destabilize the Middle East. And I’m the only one on this stage that knew that and had the vision to say it. And that’s exactly what happened.”

WHAT? That’s the answer to why the change on Health Care?

Oh, well, who knows how Trump might have explained his shift on “single payer” if he had actually answered the question asked?

But then, unlike MCCain, Trump is not a man of fixed principles except one: His own self glorification, his need to “win,” his need to belittle and “beat” anyone who gets in his way.

And so now he lashes out at a man the overwhelming majority of the public calls a hero. A hero dying of brain cancer.

 You would think that if anyone might be upset, even angry about McCain’s decision to vote against the latest GOP Repeal Bill of “Obamacare” it would be the co-authors of the bill, particularly  one of them , Senator Lindsay Graham, who considers McCain his best friend.

But, no, upon hearing that Trump had attacked McCain for his decision to vote against the latest bill,  Graham had this to say last night on CNN:

“John if you’re listening … nobody respects you more than I do. So to any American who’s got a problem with John McCain’s vote, all I can tell you is that John McCain was willing to die for this country, and he can vote any way he wants to, and it doesn’t matter to me in terms of friendship.”

So, we’re back to that.

Donald J Trump vs. John S McCain III.

In this match, Shakespeare  got it right: “A coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant taste of death but once.”

Go in peace John McCain.

As for Trump, please just go.

Changing History

The Ken Burns/Lynn Novick PBS series on the Vietnam War has set me to thinking about how history changes.

For human beings, it changes mainly because individual humans make decisions that bend the “arc.” We study the decisions of presidents, the discoveries of scientists, the work of artists and humanitarians, the leadership of Generals.

People of merit and substance.

But the American who was the most influential in changing our history in the last part of the Twentieth Century was not a person of merit or talent or even great skill.

A nobody, really.

It was Lee Harvey Oswald.

The only thing of note or importance Oswald ever did was purchase a mail order 6.5x52mm Carcano Model 91/38 infantry rifle and one day in Dallas kill John F. Kennedy. At Least John Wilkes Booth was a well known actor before he assassinated Abraham Lincoln.

Yes, I believe that in killing John F Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald bent the “Arc” of History toward a darkness of spirit and confidence  that cover us still like a shroud.

Had  Kennedy lived there is no way to know for sure how things would now be different but we do know what happened after his death.

The war in Vietnam escalated to the greatest tragedy of our national lifetime since the Civil War. We revisit it nightly on PBS. We feel it daily in the political and societal mores of our nation. Our sense of who we are as a peoples and where we stand in the World is different.

Had Kennedy lived I believe that after he was re-elected in 1964 (which by the time of his death already appeared highly probable) he would have ended American military involvement in Vietnam instead of escalating it.

I believe we would have then been better off as a peoples, better off as a nation and respected leader in the World.

About Vietnam, Kennedy told Walter Cronkite in September 1963:I don’t think that unless a greater effort is made by the Government to win popular support that the war can be won out there. In the final analysis, it is their war. They are the ones who have to win it or lose it. We can help them, we can give them equipment, we can send our men out there as advisers, but they have to win it, the people of Viet-Nam, against the Communists.”

That he said in pubic. According to several people close to Kennedy, he told them privately that after he was re-elected and free from any political imperative he would absolutely withdraw. I talked to one of them.

Mike Mansfield, the Senate Democrat leader of the time, who after his Senate career served as the U S Ambassador to Japan, was by the 1990s fully retired. However, now in his own ‘90s, Mansfield was still coming down to his downtown Washington office.

I called him on the phone one day and he took the call.

“Senator,”  I said, “I hear that you were one of the people President Kennedy told that after he was re-elected he intended to withdraw our military forces from South Vietnam. Is that true, did he tell you that?”

“Yep, that’s what he told me,” replied Mansfield.

“Can I come down to your office with cameras and interview you about that,” I asked?”

“Nope,” said Mansfield. Mike always was a man of few words.

But my feeling is not just based on what Mansfield or others said Kennedy told them.  After all, Lyndon Johnson early on in his presidency confided in his friends he wasn’t keen on getting further involved in Vietnam.

In fact, when Johnson was running for election in 1964, he actually said in a public speech: “we are not about to send American boys 9 or 10,000 miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves.”

Anyone’s mind can change, including Kennedy’s.

However, there is a difference about the two men that makes a big difference in evaluating their similar expressions about withdrawing from Vietnam.

John Kennedy had been taken in – I believe the expression is “rolled “ – by the CIA with the Bay of Pigs plan in 1961. And in the Cuban Missile crisis of 1962, the Pentagon Military brass and most of his own staff and civilian “gray beard” advisors were all for bombing the Soviet missile sites in Cuba and against the last minute  “deal” Kennedy made with Khrushchev which probably prevented World War III from erupting. The Brass was wrong and Kennedy saw that he was right.

By the fall of 1963, Kennedy, tested in difficult circumstances, felt sure of his own judgement and certainly was no longer intimidated by four stars on anyone’s shoulder. Finally, when re-elected, there would be (as he reportedly said) no more personal political consideration to take into account.

On the other hand, Johnson came to the presidency is some awe of the military (particularly the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Maxwell Taylor) and of the Kennedy administration civilian “hawks” whom he had inherited and kept on – McNamara, Bundy and Rusk.

They were for pushing ahead. And with the American pubic still wanting to “fight the dirty ‘commies’ wherever they were found” and looking ahead to another term with the election of 1968, Johnson found himself in a quagmire he didn’t fully understand and couldn’t handle.

That’s the difference. That’s why I believe Kennedy would have done what he told his friends he would do whereas Johnson didn’t do what he had told the public he would.

And all this because the nobody Lee Harvey Oswald made a decision and took rifle and History in hand.

But such “decisions” can cut both ways. Consider what happened in the case of a young man, about Oswald’s age, named Georg Elser.

Georg Elser saw that the leader of his Country was heading toward war and resolved to do something about it.

He successfully installed a bomb beside the podium where the leader was to speak. He set it to explode at 9:20 pm, midway through the time set for the speech. The bomb exploded right on schedule, raining down the roof on the speaker’s podium and killing eight people but not the man Elser was after.

At the last minute the Speaker, Adolf Hitler,  moved his speech up by thirty minutes and when the bomb went off in November of 1939 Hitler had departed the podium eight minutes earlier.

Now, think how the World might have changed, how many millions of people might have been saved, if like Oswald, Elser had succeeded.

Just one nobody and eight minutes could have changed the “arc” of History for the better.

Something to think about.

 

 

 

Sons Of Bitches And Other Freedoms

Donald J Trump is free to call people he doesn’t like or agree with “sons of bitches” and want them fired for what they’ve done. You and I may disagree with him, may think less of him for his insult to others, but he can do it without any penalty or sanction from Government (if his action costs him your vote in the next election, that may be a “penalty” but that’s your call, not Government’s).

The Founding Fathers of our Republic enacted a brilliant Constitution but then worried it hadn’t been specific enough in safe guarding citizens liberties as against Government Control or Penalty so they enacted ten amendments to the Constitution (called the Bill of Rights).

James Madison wrote the First Amendment which protects five freedoms from Government Control or Interference. And Freedom of Speech is one of them.

Sure, there are a few exceptions. In 1969, after decades of court decisions that postulated false premises beginning with Justice Holmes famous dictum (later overturned) that there is no right to yell “Fire” in a crowded theatre,” the Supreme Court found that even speech advocating violence by members of the Ku Klux Klan is protected under the First Amendment, unless the speech “is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.” But there is no exception which will allow Government to punish Donald J Trump because he calls football players who do things he doesn’t like “sons of bitches.”

Madison and his colleagues had in mind protecting the “market place of ideas” that the philosophers John Milton and John Stewart Mill advocated. Like the other free market places which sort through goods and services, casting out those which don’t work and rewarding those that do work, the unfettered ability to raise a new thought is even more important than the ability to market a new soap.

The First Amendment gives us the freedom to express our idea (thought, view, feeling, etc.) whether anyone else likes it or agrees with it. Because – just because – it might be the best idea for the future but if not allowed to be expressed, “who knew?”

In my imagination, I can only suppose the first person in olden times who publicly argued against “drawing and quartering,” the method of executing a thief by strapping his four limbs to four different horses which were then loosed to run in four different directions, thus tearing his body limb from limb, was perhaps himself “drawn and quartered” for such heretical speech against the public order (soft on crime, you know). But that idea of his prevailed because with the passage of time people in the “marketplace” decided such punishment was cruel and was therefore abandoned.

To put it bluntly, and finally simply, The First Amendment was not written to protect popular speech. If we all like what someone says, why the speaker needs no protection to speak – we congratulate that person as thoughtful and right. It is the very speech with which we initially disagree, it is unpopular speech, that needs protection.

And thanks to James Madison and his colleagues, Donald J Trump and the rest of us have it!

But guess what? The First Amendment also protects the right of those people Trump condemned as “sons of bitches” to do what he didn’t like.

They said nothing that could be heard but “Speech” as protected by the First Amendment is not necessarily verbal. What they “said” could be seen.

Madison and the Courts after he wrote understood that “speech” can take other forms to express beliefs. They knew that expression of ideas in non-violent silent ways is just as important, often even more powerful, than verbal speech. Throwing the tea into Boston Harbor told the British what the colonists thought about the “tea tax” in a more effective way that shouting against it in the village square.

When India’s Mahatma Gandhi drew hundreds of thousands to march silently with him against British rule, the British could not stand.

When Martin Luther King, Jr., used his march to Selma (along with his oratory) to move a nation further along the road to racial justice, the police with their clubs and truncheons could not prevail.

When young people (and old people) in the 1960s and ‘70s wore T-shirts with anti-Vietnam war slogans and burned the American flag in protest of what their Country was doing, all the power that Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon could muster could not stop the nation from eventually going their way.

And yes, when Athletes bow a knee or raise a fist in the air or otherwise decline to participate in the patriotic gestures of our Country, they are making statements about American discrimination and American justice which will be tested in the “market place” not just by the majority sentiment of the moment. The first real protests against the Vietnam war were met at the time with near-solid opposition by the vast majority of Americans but tested true in the flowing course of history.

So go ahead Donald J Trump, call the people who say and do things in silent protest of our Countries actions unpatriotic “sons of bitches” and go ahead athletes and others with your silent protests against things you see as wrong and want changed. The market place of Ideas will consider it all and History will tell us who was right.

I have no doubt in the case raised by Donald J Trump that once again, history will tag him with the one word he fears most of all – LOSER!

For those who disagree with the First Amendment’s protections, I say you’re welcome to go to some other Country that restricts free speech. The Soviet Union was one such Country and Ronald Reagan, who loved to tell jokes about the Soviets, had one about Free Speech.

He said a Soviet and American were arguing one day about which Country allowed the most free speech. The American said “Why, I can go into the Oval office, pound my fist on the desk and tell President Reagan I don’t like the way he’s running the Country.

“So can I,’’ said the Soviet, “I can do the same thing.’’

“I can go into President Gorbachev’s office in the Kremlin, pound my fist on the desk, and tell him I don’t like the way President Reagan is running his Country.” Telling Gorbachev off about the way he was running his Country was not in the cards.

So, if you think it’s better elsewhere, all I can say is goodbye…

…and good luck.

 

 

Our National Popinjay Strikes Again

One, at least this “one,” can not keep up with Donald J Trump and his “stream of consciousness (unconsciousness)  speeches, harangues, faux pas(s), tweets and babbles.

While you’re still digesting the implications of threatening to destroy, utterly destroy, North Korea and its twenty five million people, he races on quicker than a March Hare or perhaps a Mad Hatter, assaulting the senses and numbing the brain.

Here are just a few of the latest Trumpisms.

Trump went to Alabama, ostensibly to support the candidacy of Senator Luther Strange in next Tuesday’s Republican primary. Strange is opposed by former Judge Roy Moore who was removed twice from his post as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court because he refused to follow the legal orders of Federal Courts (particularly the Supreme Court of the United States). But never mind, Moore is ahead in the polls.

Trump said he was there to support the candidacy of Luther Strange but that both candidates  in the primary were  good men and he would enthusiastically support Moore if Moore won.  Thanks for coming, Donald.

Actually, Trump was there to support himself.

He delivered a ninety minute stream of consciousness harangue mostly about himself, his greatness his enemies, his grievances, his hatred of the press, his visions of the Wall and other fantasies.  He would jump from topic to topic in mid-sentence, the whole being an incoherent mess. Truly a “pudding with no theme.”

There was a special moment when he jumped on NFL players who have not respected the American flag by kneeling or otherwise not participating in singing the national anthem. Trump said: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’”

The various player “sons of bitches” labeled thus by Trump are firing back, of course. Sort of reminds one of the present invectives hurled to and from Washington and North Korea.

Please take the time to read the “write through” of his appearance in Alabama as written by Washington Post reporter Jenna Johnson. But read while sitting down and if you are so inclined with a stiff drink in your hand (or two Aleves). Here is the link.

http://wapo.st/2wNUDbs?tid=ss_mail&utm_term=.43b9207de414

Then there are the latest “tweets” the morning of 9/23. Trump sees the looming, final, defeat of the seven year Republican effort to Repeal and Replace President Obama’s Affordable Care Act which has made it possible for millions of low income Americans to obtain health insurance.

And with Senator’s John McCain and Rand Paul voting “no,” opponents need just one more Republican vote and once again, the seven year long Republican rant against and promise to replace the Affordable Care Act will go down to defeat.

Naturally in one of his “tweets” Trump complained once again about McCain. Here, our national popinjay who “deferred” his way out of serving in the military at a time McCain was imprisoned and tortured in North Vietnam has the gall, the chutzpah to hammer McCain. Why, as my late friend and Carter press secretary Jody Powell might say about this “That’s like being called ugly by a frog.”

McCain will certainly not bow to Donald J trump.

And what do your think the two Republican Senators McCain joined to stop the last attempt – Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski – will do this time?

One or both will almost surely vote NO.

Trump used to blame the Democrats when they refused to join in the repeal effort. But recently he has found an easier target to set up for the blame. The Republicans, particularly Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell. But that certainly doesn’t bother him. Trump is no Republican, he has his own party – the party of Trump.

Finally, before I end my own “rant,” a further word about nuclear destruction. Those two boys  continue to hurl viscous curses at each other “madman,”  “Dotard,” and threaten each with nuclear destruction. It would be laughable if it wasn’t so dangerously serious.

You don’t need a reminder of the danger from me. But take a moment and listen to an old song by the Sons of the Pioneer they recorded at the dawn of the nuclear age titled “Old Man Atom.”

It truly applies today. Here is that link.

And so long until next time.